I was challenged to name my signature dish earlier this week, but that is just way too hard. My favourite dish is so subjective and changes all the time depending on the season, my mood, my dining companions, etc. Impossible to choose just one. However, if I was to narrow my favourite dish down to a category of dish, I would have to say it would be salads. I adore salads in all their varieties. Leafy greens, beautiful vegetables, salty cheese, nuts and seeds for crunch all generously dressed with an oily dressing; what's not to love?! If you are a regular follower of Honest Project recipes, you will know what salads feature here all year round and are not reserved for summer months. Winter salads can be just as appetising and satisfying; hopefully you will try this recipe and agree.
Yesterday, I picked up fresh organic kale and organic beetroot at the market in Kilkenny. I had beautiful barrel aged salty feta in the fridge. These are the main ingredients of today's dish. To add to these, I needed something filling and first thought quinoa, before I found a bag of wild rice in the back of the cupborad, If you haven't cooked with it before, I would urge you to try it; it works great in winter salads. For crunch I toasted hazelnuts. Don't be tempted to omit these; they are essential. For a dressing, I toyed between an orange and honey dressing or using the feta to create a creamy dressing, in the end settling for the latter. I added a little honey to it for sweetness.
This salad serves 2-4. Keep scrolling for the recipe.
Approx 6 large leaves of curly kale
100g wild rice
1/3 cup hazelnuts
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
For the Feta dressing
100g feta cheese
200g creme fraiche
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Start with roasting the beetroot. Heat the oven to 200C / Gas 6. If the beets still have their leafy tops, cut them off close to the tops of the beet. Scrub the beets well and then wrap them loosely in tin foil. Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 60 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. The beetroots are done when a fork slides easily to the centre. Once roasted, set aside the beets until they cool down before peeling the skin away. Quarter the beets and set to one side. Note: If you prefer, buy cooked beets for this recipe, but don't use pickled beets.
While the beets are cooking, cook the wild rice by placing it in a saucepan with 300ml of water and bringing to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 45 minutes until the wild rice is tender and the water has absorbed. Keep an eye on it while it was cooking in case the water evaporates before the rice is tender. Add more water if required. Remove from the heat and season with sea salt and black pepper. Set to one side.
For the kale, remove the ribs from the kale so that you are left with the leaves. Then chop the kale into small pieces. Place in a large bowl and add a pinch of sea salt and the juice of half a lemon. set to one side. Using clean hands massage the lemon juice into the kale until it softens.
Toast the hazelnuts by placing them on a baking sheet in a medium heated oven for 6-8 minutes. Once toasted, wrap in a towel and set aside for five minutes. After five minutes, rub the hazelnuts while still wrapped in the towel to remove their skins. Remove the hazelnuts from the towel and use your hands to remove the remaining skin. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and set to one side.
For the dressing, add the feta cheese, creme fraiche, olive oil and honey to a blender and blend until smooth.
To assemble the salad, place the wild rice on a serving place, top with the kale and beetroot and add using half the dressing, add dollops of the dressing on top. Serve the remaining dressing in a bowl on the side. To finish the salad, top it with the toasted hazelnuts.